If it’s music you want, just follow The Crooked Road to Galax, Virginia. The Crooked Road is the name you’ll find on signs along the route of Virginia’s heritage music trail, a driving route through Southwest Virginia. It is right in the heart and home of traditional string music that dates back to settlers and beyond. Here you can find music any day of the week in all seasons, whether it’s live radio shows, jam sessions, square dancers, fiddlers conventions and festivals. The Crooked Road………..and it is very crooked…………has many venues such as the Blue Ridge Music Center, the historic Rex Theater, the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, the Wayne Henderson Music Festival and Guitar Competition, and other fairs and festivals where live music can be heard. There is a jam session somewhere just about any night you ready to listen. In a jam session people who play fiddle, guitars, banjos and other stringed instruments as a hobby get together just to share the joy of picking. They welcome listeners and are happy to talk with visitors. Jams are usually free, some accept donations for the upkeep of their host site. On this trip, we are attempting to visit as many venues along The Crooked Road as we can and meet as many interesting people as possible.
Scattered around Galax is a musical scavenger hunt that encourages visitors to explore all that the city has to offer and find 12 colorfully painted fiddles. Artists are invited to participate by submitting decorated fiberglass panels, which were placed around the city in public places. Students decorated a fiddle, and another was a community effort.
We enjoyed casually walking the streets of Galax, enjoying the small town atmosphere that we can so seldom find in Florida. There are many antique shops and small independent stores. We particularly enjoyed stopping by Willow’s Star, Herb and Holistic Health Shop. You can see their Facebook page at Facebook@Willow’s Star of their website at http://www.willowsstar.com . Here you can purchase dried herbs, salves and even a love potion. We bought some wonderful cedar incense to help the camper smell less like small wet dog and more like the great outdoors!
A highlight of our visit to Galax was getting a tour of the Chestnut Creek School of the Arts. All of the visual and performance arts are taught here and an outreach to the schools ensures that the children are exposed to opportunities to learn traditional music of the area. The school is endowed, does some fundraising and operates also on grants. It is a critical force for cultural preservation. We were grateful to stop in at a quiet time and be able to chat with the school’s director and to see the facilities.
Galax has been our go to town for basic amenities while we are here. The necessities of life don’t go away no matter where you park yourself. We have frequented the laundromat, the supermarket, the drug store and the diner. Without fail, we have been impressed with the warm and welcoming spirit of the people of this region. As we begin preparations to pack up and move on to the Great Smokey National Park tomorrow, we thank them for their hospitality and the immersion in Appalachian music that they offered to us during our stay here in Fries. It has been both educational and inspirational.